Technically it is possible for a game to last more than 24 hours, since after 40 or 60 moves each player generally gets a 30-second increment.

In an endgame, the player with the advantage will just need to be careful of the fifty-move rule and the threefold repetition rule, and he would be able to keep pressing for many many hours hoping that his opponent will crack and make a mistake.

But the problem is: 24 hours after the game has started, the next round would need to start!

So what would happen?

Some possibilities occur to me, but I don't know which (if any) might apply:

  • The entire round might be delayed for everyone participating in the event;
  • the next round might start normally on time for everyone, except for 4 players (including the 2 players playing the problematic game) who would need to wait for the problematic game to end;
  • the next round might start normally on time for everyone, and the two players who are still playing the problematic game would need to play their next round games while simultaneously continuing the problematic game;
  • the arbiters might simply decide to end the problematic game, considering it as a draw;
  • the FIDE President might need to add a new rule to prevent this kind of situation from happening again.
  • 6
    Under the FIDE rule, an arbiter has the right to stop any nonsense game from progressing. Clearly, anybody who plays chess for 24 hours must have nothing better to do in his life. The game will be stopped by the arbiter when he knows both players are just idiots and both of them will get kicked out of the tournament.
    – SmallChess
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 4:58

5 Answers 5


Although replies by Brian Towers and StudentT are the right ones (both players would be disqualified) from a theoretical points of view it would be possible that a game has not ended in time for the next round to begin. I would even say that it's possible that it could actually happen in a tournament with 3 rounds per day.

I case it would happen I guess the game would be adjourned by the arbiters. The entire round would not be delayed/cancelled, but the result would be considered to be a draw for pairing purposes only. See General handling rules for Swiss Tournaments, point D.1, and Laws of Chess, point E.1.a.

From Laws of Chess

If a game is not finished at the end of the time prescribed for play, the arbiter shall require the player having the move to ‘seal’ that move. The player must write his move in unambiguous notation on his scoresheet, put his scoresheet and that of his opponent in an envelope, seal the envelope and only then stop the chess clock. Until he has stopped the chess clock the player retains the right to change his sealed move. If, after being told by the arbiter to seal his move, the player makes a move on the chessboard he must write that same move on his scoresheet as his sealed move.

from General handling rules for Swiss Tournaments

Adjourned games are considered draws for pairing purposes only.

Update: I've found a real example in a Catalan tournament (Masdenverge). You can read tournament rules here: http://www.escacsmasdenverge.com/. It was an U-2200 tournament (to allow a 60+30 time control) and three rounds per day were scheduled. See the note where this possible problem is mentioned:

NOTA: Si una partida s'allargara en excés, superant l'hora prevista per a l'inici de la següent ronda, l'àrbitre principal podrà segons el seu criteri, emparellar amb el resultat provisional de taules, a l'efecte de que els altres participants puguen jugar la ronda següent. Quedaran ajornades les partides dels jugadors que estiguen jugant la ronda anterior i una vegada finalitzada, s'unixen a la ronda.

A free English translation:

If a game lasts for too long, exceeding the scheduled time for the start of the next round, the main arbiter may at his discretion, proceed to the pairing with the interim result of a draw, to the effect that the other players can play the next round. Games of the player who are still playing the previous round will be delayed and once these games end they'll join the current round.

As you can see in this case the draw for pairing purposes rule is used, but games are not adjourned but the players will continue to the end, and then they'll join the next round.


Well, a game that lasts more than 8 hours would make everyone involved in the tournament tired and angry. Under the assumption of today's normal time controls with 90 minutes for 40 moves followed by 30 additional minutes for the rest of the game and 30 seconds increment per move starting from move one.

It is an impressive effort to reach 24 hours of gameplay. The 50-move rule will be crucial. Most probably, 49 moves would be made with the pieces, followed by pushing one pawn one step forward and thereafter repeating the cycle. Both players would have to be in agreement and collaborate to reach this epic achievement. A slight complication is that you have to write down your move, which decreases your increment to perhaps 25 seconds and also makes your hand(s) more tired.

My guess is that the arbiter would declare a draw, 1-0, 0-1 or perhaps even 0-0 if possible, after about 8 hours of play. The grumpy arbiter would thereafter most probably try to disqualify both players from the tournament.

Since such situations are so rare, FIDE will probably make a decision based on the particular situation in question, without creating new rules or changing the existing ones.

  • 4
    In such a case, where players are cooperating in a farce, the arbiter would disqualify both players for bringing the game into disrepute. And of course it is the 75 move rule which applies in such cases not the 50 move rule. The 50 move rule allows a player to stop the game. The 75 move rule allows the arbiter to stop the game. From Petrosian's description the players are not cooperating. One player is trying to win and one to draw.
    – Brian Towers
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 22:07

Technically it is possible for a game to last more than 24 hours

Not true in a game where both players are trying to win or draw. You haven't done your sums.

In an endgame, the player with the advantage will just need to be careful of the fifty-move rule

In 20 hours of 30 second increment play at least 1200 moves have to be played. That is at least 24 times when there is a flurry of captures or pawn moves. I say "flurry" because generally speaking when there is a capture there is also a recapture. There are only 16 pieces and 16 pawns on the board when the game starts and after the first 4 hours of play a lot of them will be gone.

  • 1
    To put it in context, the longest game ever lasted 269 moves (Nikolic-Arsovic), when the 50-move rule had been modified to 100-move (this adds 50 extra moves to the game). Breaking this record by playing a game 5-6 times longer is not possible unless both players are cooperating.
    – sharcashmo
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 10:21

Would the entire round be delayed for everyone participating in the event?

No, if the game duration may exceed a reasonable amount of time (I am not talking about 24 hours, but lets say 12 hours or so) then the game is adjourned and any tournament director would plan a special day for adjourned games. This works perfectly in case of so called Round-robin system tournament. In case if the tournament is played by Swiss system rules then it is simply reasonable to have shorter time limits per game, so all games will end by the end of the next round.

Would the arbiters simply decide to end the problematic game, considering it as a draw?

No, this could never happen! The game can be considered a draw in case, for example one side loses on time while the other side doesn't have sufficient material to mate, i.e. two knights only, etc)

Would the FIDE President need to add a new rule to prevent this kind of situation from happening again?

There is no way to regulate all possible outcomes of bad tournament planning. It's not FIDE responsibility.

  • Games can't be adjourned if there is no rest day and when the players don't agree. It doesn't apply to all cases.
    – SmallChess
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 0:43
  • Doesn't the arbiter have the authority to declare a game a draw if one player wants it to be a draw, and there is no plausible scenario by which the other player could win by "normal means"?
    – supercat
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 16:41

I don't think a player in a tournament with a 90 minute base time and 30 second increments would have an advantage in dragging on a game more than 24 hours. The only way a game could drag on that long is if they have a lot of pawns and very rarely move one forward. If a player can force a game to drag on that long if they haven't won yet, they can probably also force one of their pawns to promote into a queen and then force a win in way fewer moves. That will probably not however stop a player from forcing a game to drag on more than 5 hours in the hope of winning. For that reason, they could add in the extra rule for everybody that if a game doesn't end after 5 hours, it's declared a draw to prevent that problem in the future, and invent a clock that tells them how much time there's left until the game ends. Maybe that rule could even allow the 50 move rule to be taken out of those tournaments without the game dragging on too long, allowing a player to win when they have a forced win in more than 50 moves.

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